SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Freshman southpaw Rodney Boone pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings and combined with Chris Lincoln on a five-hit shutout as UC Santa Barbara earned its first Big West Conference baseball championship in 33 years with a 7-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
Boone (8-0) struck out 12 and walked three in his longest outing of the season, throwing 123 pitches. Lincoln secured the final two outs.
With the win, UC Santa Barbara improved to 45-9 for the season and 19-5 in Big West games, finishing two games ahead of Cal Poly (28-28, 17-7) and UC Irvine (37-17, 17-7). The Anteaters defeated UC Riverside 22-7 on Saturday.
The Mustangs finished second in the Big West for the third consecutive season.
Cal Poly, which clinched its fourth consecutive series win against the Gauchos with 3-0 and 4-3 victories Thursday and Friday, needed one more win to claim a share of the Big West title with UC Santa Barbara and the automatic qualifying berth in the NCAA playoffs.
The Gauchos, however, scored twice in the first, third and fourth innings and added another run on Tevin Mitchell's fifth home run of the season in the sixth frame, to end Cal Poly's hopes of a postseason berth.
The Gauchos will learn Sunday afternoon if they will host an NCAA regional for the second time in five years. UC Santa Barbara has been to the postseason four times in the last seven years, earning a spot in the 2016 College World Series.
McClain O'Connor, Armani Smith and Tommy Jew each had two hits and one RBI as the Gauchos outhit Cal Poly 11-5.
Elijah Greene, Tate Samuelson, Myles Emmerson, Nick DiCarlo and Cole Cabrera all singled for Cal Poly, which had two runners on base in an inning just twice and stranded eight runners on the basepaths.
Freshman southpaw Chase Watkins (0-3) suffered the loss, allowing the first two runs of the game and five hits. Ryan Jameson, a freshman right-hander, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings while Jarred Zill secured the final out in his last game in a Mustang uniform.
Jameson, who had an ERA as high as 18.00 in mid-March, allowed just two earned runs over his last eight appearances of the season, posting a 1.10 ERA over 16 1/3 innings to close out the year with a 4.43 ERA.
Shut out for the fifth time this season, the Mustangs had beaten UC Santa Barbara 11 straight times before Saturday's loss. Cal Poly was seeking its first Big West title and regional berth since 2014.
Photo of shortstop Connor Gurnik courtesy of Owen Main | www.fansmanship.com